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Your potential clients are looking for well-qualified legal representation that they can trust. Check out this post to learn how case studies help bridge the gap by providing a concrete illustration of your successes in practice.
Competence is key, especially in the legal profession. But is competency enough to connect with potential clients?
This notion of competence is so integral to the legal profession that ABA Model Rule 1.1 (the first rule in the book so to speak), echoed by the rules of professional conduct across the United States, requires lawyers to provide competent representation. The bar exam is intended to test the “minimum competence” of a lawyer to practice the law, despite the debate and discussion about what that means and what the bar should measure.
However, potential clients also want more – more than mere competency in the “minimum competence” sense. Your potential clients are often faced with some of the most stressful circumstances of their lives. Regardless of the subject of their legal matter, odds are that the issue at hand is high stakes for them. Thus, they are not concerned with basic competence. Instead, they are looking for highly skilled lawyers.
Your potential clients want legal practitioners that go above and beyond and can deliver strong representation and positive results. Someone they can trust.
This is where case studies become an invaluable marketing tool for your firm. In this post, we are discussing why case studies are a strong addition to your law firm marketing plan, as well as offering a few tips to help when you begin creating your law firm’s first case study.
Case Studies Show Measurable Results
Potential clients don’t just want to hear the talk about your legal abilities. They want to see it in action. Of course, you can’t show them action in their case until you accept and assess the matter. However, you can show them the action in another real case at the outset of the marketing stage.
Of course, client confidentiality is important. You likely know you cannot just start publicly disclosing every aspect of your representation of another individual in a case study and should always check your local ethical rules before proceeding with any new marketing tactic, including case studies. However, you can often get your former clients’ permission to use their legal matters as an example of the quality representation your law firm provides. Then, work with this client to create a finished product that showcases your firm and only share information with which your previous client is comfortable. You may also be able to share very general, anonymous information about a case instead of working directly with a client to create the finished product, but it is still a good idea to seek client approval for this plan before you begin.
Case Studies Create More Authentic Connections
Testimonials have become increasingly common in the legal marketing world over recent decades. You see testimonials on law firm websites and in paid ads. You see them on billboards, in television commercials, and in YouTube videos. They’re everywhere and there is a reason why!
Testimonials demonstrate results while also creating more authentic, personal connections. When a potential client hears (or reads) your former clients’ own words, they can picture themselves in that situation. It gives your work a third-party endorsement and, thus, more credibility.
Case studies are different, but share the common thread of more personalized, authentic relationship building. With a case study, you can increase your firm’s credibility while also building trust with your potential clients by sharing the story of positive outcomes your law firm has achieved for real clients.
Case Studies Present Additional Opportunities to Showcase Positive Outcomes
You are likely already using your law firm’s positive outcomes to market your practice. For instance, you may have a section on your website showcasing large jury verdicts or a total amount recovered for your clients. When you negotiate a satisfactory settlement or win big at trial, you may write a blog post or press release, or even announce your win on social media. Maybe you promote strong results in a regular newsletter.
Case studies present an additional channel for you to leverage these positive outcomes in a different format while showcasing them to new potential clients. This helps you further expand your marketing reach and adds another way to communicate your law firm’s core messaging to future clients.
Case Studies Are Cost Effective
Because case studies are written materials that can be shared in a pdf file or even directly on your law firm’s website, they do not necessarily require a significant investment.
As a lawyer, you likely write a lot for your living. These skills can help you craft engaging content for your case study! The story is already there. You just have to present it compellingly.
Ideally, your law firm would enlist the help of a graphic designer or other marketing professional to help with the layout and presentation of your study. This is often much more cost-effective than hiring professionals to help with some other marketing tactics, such as video production and editing. However, if budget is a concern, you can treat the design of your case study much like you would a new blog post on your site.
Tips for Creating Your Law Firm Case Studies
While creating a case study for your law firm does not have to be overly complex, you should follow a few best practices to ensure you are effectively leveraging this strategy.
Keep It Short and Sweet
First and foremost, do not treat your case study like a lengthy brief or complex academic writing. You want it to be easy to read – short and sweet. Try to keep your standard case study to a maximum of approximately seven paragraphs, and do not feel pressured to keep writing after you have made your point.
For example, the New York law firm Cuddy + Feder LLP created a case study highlighting its attorneys’ involvement in a complex real property acquisition and development matter. In just eight paragraphs, the case study explains how four different teams of specialized attorneys all worked to help a client navigate a complex web of legal issues faced in a real estate transaction and development plan.
Keep It Simple
Remember that your audience for these case studies is not other lawyers. Your readers may not understand complex legal terms and issues. Therefore, you should carefully craft a case study that distills complex legal issues into accessible, easily understood material.
In a Holland & Knight case study on advising foreign investors preparing to buy a U.S. power plant, the firm discusses complicated energy and antitrust law concerns before various government entities without extraneous details and with just enough information for readers to understand why the law firm needed to be involved in the transaction.
Offer Background Information
Potential clients are likely unfamiliar with the laws applicable to any given matter and are certainly not familiar with the background of your particular case. Be sure that your case study includes enough background information on the matter for the story (and the outcomes) to make sense to your reader.
Cummins & White LLP, a Southern California law firm, has a good example of this in the firm’s case study regarding timber trespass and treble damages for the death of a tree. The study offers context and background by sharing the key facts presented in the matter. It discusses the outcome at the trial court, before discussing in detail the outcome at the appellate court level.
Tell Their Story
Remember that personal story-telling helps build those more authentic relationships with your potential client. Don’t focus on cold or distant recitations of your former client’s legal matter. Yes, share the legal information, case facts, and outcome. But also be sure to share some about the people behind the story too.
The national law firm of Simmons Hanly Conroy utilizes a very intricate case study presentation. However, it still incorporates the human element into the study. In its case study regarding Topamax birth defects litigation, the firm weaves in a short story about its clients that brings a more personal touch to the case discussion.
Final Thoughts: Why Do You Care?
Case studies are an excellent way to showcase the successes our law firm has achieved for your clients. When implemented as part of a robust legal marketing strategy, they can help you better relate to your ideal clients and build trust through authentic connections.